Across Ontario, community mental health and addictions supports are vastly underfunded.

COVID-19 had made the mental health and addictions crisis in Ontario all the more prevalent, emphasizing the dire need for our government to re-think the way it funds and prioritizes mental health and addictions prevention and early intervention. Long-term funding is needed now to stabilize the sector and to ensure that the growing number of individuals facing mental health challenges and addictions receive the lifesaving care and support they need and deserve.

For instance, at Regeneration Community Services, whose employees are represented by CUPE Local 4891, government underfunding, including no new funding to support pay equity obligations, is prompting the employer to propose a three-year wage and benefit freeze that workers simply cannot afford. This underfunding may result in a service disruption at Regeneration Community Services if workers are forced to strike, leaving many clients without the supports they need and rely on.

Dedicated funding to community mental health and addictions supports produces substantial economic benefits and improves the capacity of our health care system. Providing accessible, safe, and community-based resources helps to mitigate reliance on more costly health care services and the criminal justice system and enhances quality of life for thousands of Ontarians.

It’s time for our government to invest in community mental health and addictions services and to develop a plan to address the increasing number of individuals who need support.

Dear Minister Elliott and MPP,

In April 2020, we welcomed the release of the government’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People as an important movement toward addressing the significant impact that the pandemic has had on the most vulnerable members of our community.

Over the past months, frontline community mental health and addictions workers have been supporting those who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These workers, who are predominantly women, are generally compensated modestly and receive little government investment despite their greater accessibility, relationship building capacity with service users, and overall, their improved intervention outcomes. It is clear that more needs to be done to address the growing mental health and addictions crisis facing Ontarians and the growing fiscal hardships impacting community mental health and addictions workers and agencies.

For instance, at Regeneration Community Services, whose employees are represented by CUPE Local 4891, government underfunding, including no new funding to support pay equity obligations, is prompting the employer to propose a three-year wage and benefit freeze that workers simply cannot afford. This underfunding may result in a service disruption at Regeneration Community Services if workers are forced to strike, leaving many clients without the supports they need and rely on.

Dedicated funding to community mental health and addictions supports produce substantial economic benefits and improves the capacity of our health care system. By providing accessible, safe, and community-based resources that support mental health and addiction, we create strong outcomes in the following areas:

  • Improvements to the capacity of our health care system: Prevention and early intervention helps to ensure that those experiencing mental health concerns and addictions are able to find treatment during early onset, thus reducing reliance on more costly and precious health care services
  • Reduced reliance on the criminal justice system and police crisis intervention: Community mental health and addictions supports divert clients from court and jail
  • Improved community participation: Those living with mental health concerns and addictions often report feelings of isolation and exclusion, especially now during COVID-19. With enhanced prevention and early intervention supports, individuals will be better positioned to participate in their respective communities
  • Workforce stability and improved employee retention: Community mental health and addictions services are the most impactful when there is not high staff turnover and fewer disruptions to continuity of care

We ask that you work with the Ford government to develop a strategic funding plan to address the fiscal issues facing many community agencies supporting community mental health and addictions services.

Are you able to provide or advocate for enhanced funding to support community mental health and addictions services in Ontario? Will you work with Premier Ford to develop a plan to address the funding shortfalls experienced by community agencies?

Sincerely,

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